The Seahawks held their annual Rookie Mini-Camp this past weekend, which gave coaches the first chance to see their draft picks and undrafted free agent signings in action. In addition to getting a feel for already-signed players' technique, competitiveness, and athleticism, they also got a look at a few unsigned "tryout players" that may end up sticking with the team.
John Schneider mentioned recently that during the chaos that is the undrafted free agent signing free-for-all, some of Seattle's top targets looked as though they were signing elsewhere initially, only to come back to the Seahawks after the team had already signed their quota of players. So, as Schneider said, the team now had some tryout players that they had originally wanted to sign outright.
Last year, DE Benson Mayowa, TE Victor Marshall, and WR Arceto Clark were two players that immediately (or in Clark's case, eventually) earned spots with the team after impressing in tryouts (there were several others that were on and off the roster throughout the year as well), so it wouldn't surprise me much to see a few of this year's Mini-Camp tryout stars end up on the 90-man roster this week.
Let's take a look at a few players whose names kept coming up in pressers and by the beat reporters watching the action:
Standouts (per reports):
RB Demitrius Bronson
5'10 212 pounds; 4.52 40, 4.25 short shuttle, 6.82 3-cone, 24 reps bench, 33.5" vert. Bronson is a former 3-star recruit to University of Washington but saw only limited action in 2009 and didn't play in 2010, so he transferred to Eastern Washington. He fits the profile, athletically, as a Seahawk type of running back, and as our own Jared Stanger points out, "his highlight reel is basically a '3rd down back' audition tape. Catches out of the backfield, chip blocks on blitzers, short yardage..."
CB/FS Markus Smith
6'1, 195 pounds, 4.55 40,
This morning on KJR, Hugh Millen pointed to Markus Smith, who is listed at safety but played cornerback this weekend, as one guy that really stood out to him over the three days. Smith is a JUCO transfer to Nevada that also had offers from Texas Tech, Kansas State, and San Diego State, and is a former league champion wrestler in high school. In 22 games (8 starts) with the Wolfpack, he had three picks and eight passes defensed, plus amassed 65 tackled. Was only a part-time starter.
Here's what Nolan Nawrocki said of Smith at NFL.com:
STRENGTHS Looks the part with outstanding size and good body length. Is willing in run support. Solid open-field tackler -- can lasso ball carriers.
WEAKNESSES Very lean and leggy. Pedals tall. Can do a better job protecting his legs. Raw instincts and awareness. Is late to sort out routes and drive on the ball in zone coverage. Average production.
BOTTOM LINE A developmental press corner with desirable size, length and tackling ability to function in short areas with continued improvement. Must prove his wares on special teams.
CB/FS Trey Wolfe
5'11 190 pounds, 4.58 40, 38" vert, 10.5' broad jump. There's an excellent longform article on Wolfe from prior to the Draft here, so check that out.
CB/S John Ojo:
6'3 209 pounds, 4.62 40, 41" vert, 10.42' broad.
Great size, slow(ish) 40 time that's overshadowed by excellent vertical and broad jump numbers, indicating excellent explosive athleticism but not necessarily top-end speed.
DE Adam Talaat
6'6 275 pounds. Nice sized power defensive end prospect. Talaat, who is deaf, was featured prior to the Draft because of his ability to overcome this obstacle, and the Seahawks are taking a look.
Past Bronson, the other four players whose names kept coming up this weekend feature at positions the Seahawks need depth at: safety, cornerback, and defensive end.
Of all position groups, I'd say I'm most worried about the LEO defensive end spot, which is largely unsettled after Chris Clemons' departure, and lacking experience after Cliff Avril. Perhaps Bruce Irvin will move back to the LEO position more prominently -- Seattle does have more depth at the linebacker position, at least in theory -- or perhaps one of Benson Mayowa or Cassius Marsh will step in to fill the void. Perhaps they'll look to go bigger at the spot rather than continuing to use 250-pounders in the Clemons/Irvin mold. It will be interesting to see.
At safety/cornerback, Seattle has some depth spots to fill after losing Walter Thurmond, Brandon Browner, and Chris Maragos. Guys that can play both safety and cornerback seem to be on this coaching staff's radar especially -- Eric Pinkins, John Ojo, Markus Smith, etc.
No signings have been officially reported as of yet, but I would guess a few will filter in over the next few days.